My identity has shifted so much in these past two years. I’ve gone from being in a sweet but stuck relationship to being freely and (mostly) contently single. I shifted from considering myself a yoga teacher making an hourly wage to running my own prosperous health coaching business. Emotionally, I’ve gone from seeing my inner life as slightly anxious and defensive to one that is as strong as it is vulnerable.
This last year in particular has taught me in no uncertain terms that change is possible. Change is available to us when we are willing to tell the truth, be open to possibility, and take big scary risks. The risk part is necessary. We will stay stuck in fanciful state of possibility forever unless we decide leverage our hope into tangible action. For whatever reason, this has never been too hard for me. I say “yes” all the time. This hurts me sometimes (overcommitment) but mostly it’s a good thing. It means that I value growth over comfort, especially when I am willing to learn from my mistakes.
Seeing this real change in myself and my clients has got me thinking about what else is ready to shift in my life. Here’s a list of what I think is ready to move (as long as I keep facing my fear and taking action):
1. Old, outdated belief: There isn’t enough success and prosperity to go around. Deep in the back of my mind, I still feel the kernel of threat when someone else gets something they want. This leads to weird jealous feelings and constriction in my chest. I’m ready to let go of that fear-based mentality and step into this truth: there is enough for everybody. I know that the happier I get for someone else’s good fortune, the more good fortune will come my way. My heart has known this forever. Now it’s time for my head to get in on it too.
2. Old, outdated belief: I’m valuable because I help people. Working with my clients teaches me that so many women believe this! We equate our self worth with being of service to others. Although service is a beautiful thing, it’s not who we really are as people. When we continual put the needs of others above own self care it leads to angry, resentful feelings. Who does that serve? The truth is that I am valuable because I exist. When I treat myself like I’m valuable (read: practice good self care) then serving others is a joy. It can’t work the other way around.
3. Old, outdated belief: My words aren’t important. Wow, how untrue is that! Of course my words are important (you’re reading them right now, right?). Yet I’ve grown up with this story in my head that I’m not intelligent, cool, etc enough for my opinion to really matter. I think behind all of that is really just a fear of rejection. Starting this business has shown me that I can be rejected and survive (although it does sting sometimes) but when I let rejection run the show I shut down. When I shut down, I run the risk of not connecting with the folks out there who may need to hear my words. I need the inspiration and wisdom of many people’s words. If those people told themselves that their words weren’t valuable, then I wouldn’t have that needed inspiration. My new truth is that my words are pretty darn powerful, so I best use them well. I’m curious how many of you out there also share this belief. I think it keeps us from creating the work that is ours to create. What would you write/say/express if you knew for sure it was valuable? Write it, say it, make it and watch how it shifts your identity.
4. Old, outdated belief: If I let myself get too happy, I’m setting myself up for disappointment. One of the truest realizations I’ve had of late is that I am the ONLY person who really gets in my own way. From past experience, I’d say it’s true that my very happy moments can quickly crash down with disappointment. I used to think that this was just how the universe worked humbling me when I got too high on my horse. What feels truer to me right now is that I am the one taking myself down. I’m learning that I have a pattern of self-sabotage. When I’m getting too happy, I pick a fight or overeat or get down on myself. I have an “upper limit” of how much good stuff I think is allowed to happen to me. When I get too close to that limit, I take myself down. (Read Gay Hendricks book “The Big Leap if you want to know more about this). My new truth is that I can be as happy as I allow myself to be. Simplistic? Yes. Still true? Hell yes.
5. Old, outdated belief: I’m not supported by the people around me. Man, I’ve had such a story in my life around support. This story comes out when I am stressed and going through a hard time. During these hardest life moments the shitty voice in my head starts talking. It tells me that out of their sheer jerk-faced insensitivity, the people in my life are denying me the oddles of love that are rightfully mine. Ugh and ugh! This belief has caused me and my loved ones SO much suffering it hurts to even write about it here. From the grounded place I’m in right now, I could write you papers about how untrue it is. I have wonderful loved ones who support me all of the time. The problem is that when I go through a hard time, I stop supporting myself. I beat up on myself and default on my self care which makes me feel isolated and prickly. Then I take it out on the people that I love. Yikes! I’ve gotten way better at this and still am working on it. The great thing about practicing yoga and Ayurveda is that now I have an arsenal of self care techniques that allow me to support myself. My new truth is that I can take extra good care of myself during hard moments, ask for help when I need it, and appreciate all the love I have in my life. Amen.
Wow, it’s both super vulnerable and really powerful to share all of that with you. I have a sense that I am not alone in some of these beliefs. Also, saying it aloud to you all (the gracious, supportive community that you are) will keep me accountable to actually shifting these stories. Untrue beliefs cannot survive under the lens of consciousness. That’s why telling the truth is always the first and most important step to creating change.
And what are stories? They are just patterns of repetitive thoughts and beliefs. So many of our thoughts/beliefs are handed down to us from our families and imprinted in us by modern media. So often, we never think to question them. The truest work of yoga is teach us that we are so much more than the temporal matter of thoughts. It teaches that we are the connective tissue of deep wisdom that can use thoughts creatively and with discretion. Thus absolutely in the driver’s seat of how we experience life.
If you want to change your beliefs then the first step is to get conscious. If a thought makes you suffer then question it. Ask yourself if it’s really true. Is it true to your ego or true to your heart? Ask yourself if it’s adding more love or more suffering to your life. Is it making the people around you suffer? Ask yourself if there is a kinder, truer thought available to you. Yes, there always is!
Then practice those kinder, truer thoughts. This is yoga. Practicing this kind of yoga will empower you and your life will change. As your life changes, you will help the people around you in ways you can’t even imagine. It will help the world evolve into the kinder, more humane place we wish it could be. We are very much a part of that process. This is our work here as human beings.